How to Help Your Problematic Employee Who is a Manager

BY C. Lee Smith
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Are the managers in your company doing enough to engage the employees in their departments? If you notice a revolving door in one of your divisions, you may have a problematic employee in a position of power. As a responsible leader, you should address the problem immediately.

Is Your Problematic Employee Also a Manager?

We know that a solid relationship between an employee and a manager makes a huge difference in motivation, work output and length of service. Our research shows that 32% of sales professionals have asked to move because they couldn’t work for their manager. In addition, around 61% of sales professionals say they have worked for a toxic manager or with a toxic co-worker.

Clearly, not every manager-​employee relationship is successful. Our survey results are alarming because sales professionals can easily find another job. Once they leave an organization, someone in a managerial or leadership role must look for a replacement. The typical organization needs a year to search for and train a new employee.

What can members of the leadership team do to reduce that kind of turnover? Is there a way for them to identify problematic employees?

Uncovering Problem Behavior

It can be challenging to pinpoint a managerial problem. A significant number of employee departures can be a clue. Leaders should also maintain a physical presence in the areas where employees congregate and listen for both positive and negative trends.

Employees may generally be afraid to complain about their manager. They won’t want a reputation as a squealer. But they may come forward if they feel there won’t be retribution.

If a team member raises a complaint, treat them professionally. Investigate the claim and let them know the outcome. Most importantly, assure them that they have done the right thing.

If the problematic employee ends up being fired, explain the situation to the group. Team members need to feel safe bringing problems like an abusive manager to the attention of senior leadership. Leaders are in the best position to demonstrate that safety.

Training Your Managers

Not every problematic employee must be terminated, and this is especially true for managers. You can prevent some problems from occurring by providing sufficient training.

New managers must understand the legal boundaries of what they can say and do. They should also learn how to interact with team members appropriately. You can cover these topics in training sessions that extend of a period of months to ensure the new managers retain key ideas.

New managers can also benefit from mentoring. Leaders with a successful track record of managing others should share their experiences and advice with new managers.

Using Psychometric Data

Leaders can base a manager training program on the results of psychometric assessments that employees have taken. These assessments indicate which employees naturally possess the soft skills that matter when they supervise others: empathy, active listening and critical thinking.

Employees with lower scores for these skills can benefit from personalized training. Managing other employees is a task that requires a far different mindset than the one needed to succeed in a specialized task. One potential manager may need more practice on empathy, while another may need to focus on active listening.

Setting Problematic Employees on a Better Course

Problematic employees exist at every level in an organization. Too often, individuals with little ability to show empathy or help employees on their career path rise to the supervisory level. Once there, leaders may find it challenging to remove them.

Don’t let this happen in your organization. Carefully screen the individuals you plan to promote. Corporate leaders owe it to all employees to ensure that supervisors and managers are meeting the needs of their team members.

Photo by Craig Adderly on Pexels.